By Franklin Alli
The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Industry, Honourable Solomon Agidani, has disclosedÂ that the lawmakers have commenced moves to enact an enabling law that would ban the importation of used tyres popularly called â€˜ tokunbo tyres. into the countryâ€™
Tokunbo tyres are fairly used tyres. They areâ€™second-handâ€™ tyres. Most tokunbo tyres are imported into the country. TheÂ bill he said stipulates that a maximum of three years should be fixed as expiry date for tyres whether imported or locally manufactured, to ensure that the quality of tyres sold and used in Nigeria meets international standard of six to eight millimeters thread thickness, which makes it road worthy.
Move by the lawmakers to ban used tyres was disclosedÂ during the visit of the Committee to Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), corporate head office in Lagos, where the members inspected seized substandard goods by the Agencyâ€™s enforcement officials.
But industry observers wondered of what use will be the ban since the two local tyres manufacturers ( Dunlop PLC, and Michelin Nigeria Limited) that wouldÂ Â have benefited from the proposed policy have closed down?
However, Agidani, said that the House in plenary session has passed through second reading of the bill which will also make it mandatory for tyres to bear manufacturing and expiry dates and to prohibit importation of used and sub-standard tyres and for related matters.
Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Industry, Honourable Ekperikpe Ekpo (PDP Akwa Ibom), the initiator of the bill, noted that 80 per cent of road accidents were caused by tyre bursts andÂ not less than 60 per cent of vehicles, especially commercial vehicles, use either sub-standard orÂ tokunbo tyres.
Ekpo lamented that despite the fact that used tyres fall under the list of banned items in Nigeria, the country had witnessed increase of used tyre outlets, importation and smuggling of substandard tyres and described the situation as not only dangerous, but a disgrace to the Nigerian economy.
â€œOftentimes, we attribute road accidents to acts of God, this, to a large extent, is erroneous and road accidents are mostly caused by human error,â€ he said.
In some countries especially Europe, it is illegal to use tyres that have faded to 1.6mm thickness, this should be duplicated in our country as a step to curb road accidents to its minimal level,â€ he said.
Tokunbo tyres are usually sold with about 40 per cent of their original thread remaining. However, despite their remaining thread, it must be appreciated that tokunbo tyres are unsafe tyres.
In many cases, such tyres will appear perfectly sound but in reality very unsafe. Tokunbo tyres come in different grades, their cost reflect their second-hand nature and this no doubt contributes to their attraction to motorists. The purchase and use of tokunbo tyres may enable some motorists keep their vehicles on the road.
The campaign against the use of tokunbo tyres, dated back to some five years ago when the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), launched the campaign to ban entry of the commodity into the country. SON Director-General, Dr. John Akanya, while launching the campaign attributed the cause of the death of 34,000 Nigerians on the highways per annum to burst tyres, which he said were imported used ones.
It is appalling that even in the face of the on going campaign, used imported tyres are still being sold openly all over Lagos and other cities across the country. Why are we fighting a scourge by merely scratching the surface?
Though buyers of used imported tyres should bear the brunt of the fate that befalls them, we believe circumstances beyond their control forced them to buy such tyres which, are cheaper than those manufactured locally. Agreed, no one could deliberately go out of his way to court death as is the case with the use of tokunbo tyres, buyers of such tyres should be discouraged from further buying them through a more vigorous campaign and raiding of shops where they are sold.